Today’s madness begins a special Friday Funny Pages crossover series, I’ve got three or four of these lined up that I think are pretty amusing, at least to me. The dual franchise images I have planned all come from a trade titled “Crossover Classics the Marvel/DC Collection.” This particular image dates back to 1975 and the very first Marvel/DC hero crossover. Written by Gerry Conway and drawn by Ross Andru this issue has a plethora of other well-known credits of course spanning both publishers.
Heralded as “The Battle of the Century!” This was to be a comic book event like no other, bringing comic fans the best of both worlds Spider-Man and Superman in one amazing series!
For a long time I was a huge fan of DC/Marvel crossovers, this particular trade was one of my first comic book purchases, but as time goes on the crossover concept has lost most of its spectacle for me. I don’t know why exactly, perhaps it’s my better understanding of the commercial motivations of the publishers, or the fuel these crossovers lend to the fiery and pointless Marvel vs DC fandom debates, but overall the crossovers don’t do much for me these days. This could also be in part to the impermanence of the crossovers, they all seem to happen so randomly and without much consequence. Perhaps if there were some type of stop and go crossover continuity that relaunched every ten years or so when Marvel and DC decide they need money bad enough to team up once again. Although such a continuity would be rather bland and boring because writers have learned that you can’t really proclaim one superhero better than another because the fans will have a shit fit. If they showed the Hulk ripping Batman in half it would be a clear Marvel bias, and if Superman were to beat Thor the rivers would run red with DC blood! If there were ever a Marvel/DC crossoververse the issues would be extremely vague and full of random deus ex machina unifying events that would ensure the heroes never actually fought long enough to determine a victor, but rather teamed up to achieve some amiable end.
But enough of my comic book rhetoric, let’s talk about this panel.
This panel could, and should, be the entire crossover of Spider-Man VS Superman. In a straight up fight Supe wins, sorry Spidey. As much as I don’t really care for Superman at all, there’s just no fight to be had here. HOWEVER through the magic of the comic book creators involved in this story that is not the only thing this tale was about! You see the issue did not only see a team up between Spider-Man and Superman, but it also saw the sinister pairing of Lex Luthor and Doctor Octopus! That’s where things get good.
It just so happens that Peter Parker and Clark Kent are both attending the World News Conference in New York city (so they apparently have been living in the same universe all along, but Superman just hadn’t ever gone to New York? Or heard of Spider-Man? Silly.) But when villainy strikes Spider-Man and Superman are called into action! Long story short Luthor and Doc Ock make the two heroes think the other is behind the attack, the villains zap Spider-Man with a mega dose of red sun radiation temporarily giving him powers and strength equal to Superman, and a battle royale ensues! That is of course until the red sun radiation wears off and we have the two panels shown above, as Spidey realizes he’s no match for the Man of Steel.
Of course later the two heroes come to an understanding and team up to bring the evil doers to justice and they all live happily ever after!
The one thing that I can still appreciate about crossover events is the sheer amount of goofiness involved in their creation. Whether it’s uncanny devices like a red sun radiation gun, or transdimensional tournaments of transpublisher celestial beings uniting the two universes together, the zany cleverness and creative effort put into initiating these hero showdowns is always reminiscent of the oldest days of comic books when the cheesy, the harebrained, the unexpected, and the unbelievable were regular elements of these astonishing tales.
Until next time, that is all!